Key Word:- CONSIDER
Title:- Staunch Stifled & Stiff
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me
It is always the young and inexperienced in the mournful procession that cry out in the crowd that 'the king has no clothes on!' Often, it is only the young that are so openly honest. So, there I was again, having that same old conversation, “I believe in God, I have prayed so much but He does not answer my prayers and He does not speak to me. I wonder if He really loves me. I wonder if I am a Christian?” Now, the staunch among the procession might nod or shake their head knowingly but then, without answering the desperate cry, simply encourage the youngsters to turn the pages of Scripture, and just read their Bible a little more. Good advice, but no real answer when the king seemingly has no clothes on!
I have found 'the staunch’ often to be the good people Brennan Manning writes about them saying “While their belief system is invulnerable, their faith in God's love for them, is remote and abstract. They would be hard pressed to say that the essence of their faith-committment is a love affair between God and themselves. Not just a simple love affair but a FURIOUS love affair.” To staunch-like brethren it seems that the gloriously aloof and distant God is only ever tasted, second hand, and that from the well worn writings of distant and dead divines, past preachers and protestant statements of faith. I wonder if to many brethren like this, brethren that have either had no passion or have denied it and pushed it down, the love of God is but a hopeful rumor? Our empty churches of today, should tell us that for honest youngsters seeking passion, the terrible trio of 'Staunch, Stifle and Stiff' that have in time past filled many a mind, pulpit and pew, are now just not enough to keep the faith, when a furious and intimate love affair with the Father is passionately desired. You see, an unmet hunger means a re-read letter does not satisfy; real sheep, alive sheep, want to hear His voice. For the hungry, this desperate cry for a passionate and felt embrace is not a denial of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures; but rather, is the ardent, desperate and angry splashing of the fallen cloak of the chariot-borne prophet on the jostling waters of their own Jordan River. These youngsters are not disbelieving, nor dishonorable, but are shouting loud and long, “Where is the God of Elijah?”
Indeed, let all things be brought to the inerrant and infallible Word of God. For it is there we learn, that God is in Heaven and speaks from there. More than that, we also learn that we are seated with Christ NOW in the heavenlies. So we are indeed, already there with Christ in heaven in both position and in PRACTICE. We are already there! Did you get that? So take a look around. Stop. Look. Listen. There is a lot to get passionate about!
Unfortunately though, for most of us, we who are seated with Christ in the heavenlies neither see nor hear anything. We feel sad, isolated and worse than that, the devil seems to be true when he says “It's all sham! Give it up. Give Him the slip.” Our way of discipleship in recent times past, I think has maybe concentrated too much on the externals and the disciplines, all of which are very good, but in the end, seem to have been substantially lacking! I confess that I do not know how these excellent spiritual disciplines such as meditation on the Word, memorization, petitional prayer, spiritual reading, confession, adoration and thanksgiving, have come to attend simply to our doing but not to our being? How can these good, important and necessary disciplines come to have seemingly blocked up our hearing and blinded our seeing? Maybe it is because to our mentors of 'Staunch, Stifled and Stiff', they have become Jesus, rather than tools to lead us to Jesus? I am not sure. However, I do think Manning commenting on these things is correct in saying that in the recent past, “Devotional spirituality led to a new way of doing but not necessarily of seeing.”
So to my disappointed and hungry young brethren seeking a furious love affair and kicking against all the good of 'Staunch, Stifled and Stiff'', I say this: “Be quiet. Seek silence. Seek some solitude. Bravely ask Jesus to stick His fingers in His mouth, pull them out wet and dripping with saliva and then plonk them into your 'way too' waxy ears. Then listen closely brethren, as He spits on the Holy ground on which you stand and makes muddy grits, then gently, with His thumbs, massages the marvelous mixture into your closed and matted eyes.”
Friend. Jesus is already here. We are already there. If you want to see and hear, you must ask to do so. Then you must take time and find some space, to begin to see and begin to listen. This is not the way of the mystic. but is simply the forgotten way of the disciple. Faith is the courage to trust Jesus to do these things for you. Faith is the courage to begin to listen and even to dare to see. So my young friend screaming at the religious parade regarding the seemingly naked king, is it not evident that those in charge still have much to learn? So tell me now, will you help them? For you too have much to learn about listening and learning without which, you will never love aright.
Listen:- Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” Mark 7:32-34
Pray: - Lord, give me the courage to believe Your love for me, Your desire for me even. Jesus touch me. Softly, gently, caress my closed eyes and uncork my deaf ears. Softly, gently, let me hear Your whispering word to me. Amen.